Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
This weekend is the Third Sunday of Great and Holy Lent, when our Church presents to all of us for veneration the most Precious Cross of Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. The Church places the Cross before us this day to encourage us to persevere in our Lenten struggle because in the Church and in the Cross we see our goal: the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the hymn for this Feast, we hear the words, “Save, O Lord Your People and bless Your inheritance. Grant victory to the faithful against the adversaries of the faith. And protect Your people by the power of Your Cross.”
We know that the Holy Cross is our strength and salvation, and it is an everlasting sign of our faith. This is especially important in these challenging times of the Coronavirus pandemic and the deep impact we are all feeling during this global crisis.
At a time when we should be gathering together as a Christian family in worship, we are instead confined to our homes, praying privately, and watching live-streamed services, while our hearts yearn to be in our parishes actively participating in the Divine Services with one another, enjoying the fellowship of the community, and engaging with our ministries of the parish. Today, though it might seem difficult, we know that Christ is in our midst, and that His love and blessings are with us every day of our lives, for as He said, “I will never leave you nor will I forsake you.”
The power of prayer is undeniable, and we know that “with God, all things are possible.” Pray for the restoration of the health for those suffering from this disease. Pray for those who are providing care and comfort for them, and also for God’s grace and wisdom upon the physicians and researchers who are working diligently to find a cure for COVID-19. Pray also for all the public servants, who are wrestling with the effects of this pandemic in our society. Pray for your clergy as they work to meet the needs of you, the flock, during these challenging times.
Through the gift of technology, we are able to offer online services to keep our faithful connected to the Church. While you may be alone in your homes, you are not alone. As we sing in the Church, “God is with us!” Μεθ΄ημών ο Θεός! The Lord is with you. He walks beside you, lifting you up during the struggles of these days, and He will always be your fortress. In the Gospel of John, the Lord offers this message to His disciples to comfort them, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Beloved in the Lord, do not feel helpless or hopeless. Where there is Jesus Christ, there is always hope, and the Church will always be there to help you. For over two thousand years, we have been a Church of faith, a Church of love and hope, and a Church of triumph. The Coronavirus cannot and will not shake our faith. During this time of darkness, we must continue to be a beacon of Christ’s light for the world.
Let us then, my brothers and sisters in Christ, remain united during this struggle. Let us hold on to the Cross as our symbol of victory and hope. Let us remain strong in our faith, and use the time when other worldly distractions are removed from our midst to attend to our prayer services, reading the Holy Scriptures, observing the fast, and truly prepare to receive the Crucified and Resurrected Christ into our lives on the Great Feast of Pascha!
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.
Η χάρίς τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησου Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡ αγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ και Πατρὸς καὶ ἡ κοινωνία τοῦ Ἁγίου Πνεύματος, εἴη μετὰ πάντων ὑμῶν.